When browsing online dating platforms for a match, in theory, you’re right to assume your match is single. After all, most online dating sites are designed for singles. However, in a dating study from Kaspersky Lab, researchers reported that 31 percent of online dating service users who were surveyed also were married or living with a partner.
So what happens if, as you’re getting to know a match, you find out they’re either married, separated, or recently divorced? Or that they recently ended a long-term relationship?
For starters, as a matchmaker in the business for over 30 years and someone happily married themselves, I believe, unequivocally, you should walk away from someone who is married and cheating on their spouse. Period. If they’re going to lie about that, who knows what else they will lie about.
As for dating someone who’s separated or recently out of a long-term relationship, my answer is usually the same — but for different reasons. Here are my thoughts about why I believe it’s usually best to walk away from a match who’s still legally, financially and/or emotionally attached.
Divorces are complicated.
The process of going through a divorce is unbelievably difficult and stressful. Divorce can bring people to their emotional, financial and mental breaking points. A divorce is not just an emotional breakup, but a legal and financial one, too, requiring a lot of time and attention. Even the termination of a long-term relationship may present more than just emotional strings.
A match who’s currently separated or going through a breakup probably has a lot on their plate. They might be using online dating because they genuinely believe themselves to be ready to see someone else — and perhaps they might be — only to realize later they have neither the time nor the capacity for a relationship. Not to mention, there remains the looming risk of reconciliation between them and their ex.
It is also possible, and likely, your match is not yet over their ex and might be using online dating to fill the hole in their heart left by them.
Do you want to be a body who’s there to fill a void? Do you want to be the person who finds themselves in the crossfire of someone else’s divorce or breakup? Because the one who will most likely end up getting hurt is you.
No one likes to be a rebound.
Even if you “know for a fact” your match isn’t going back to their ex, divorces emotionally mess people up for a while. The trail of destruction divorce leaves causes many separated and recently divorced people to be emotionally unavailable. In other words, they are too preoccupied with the stress associated with getting a divorce and the recovery after to prioritize you in the way someone who has long since finalized a divorce and has had the proper amount of time to mend their broken heart would be able to.
If you date someone freshly separated or just out of a relationship, you put yourself at risk for being a rebound, along with a host of challenges that can be difficult to overcome. Rebound relationships are often too poorly paced, with the emotionally unavailable partner either wanting to get too serious too soon or not wanting to get serious at all.
This state of uncertainty will take a large mental toll on you if you’re ultimately looking to find a match who can offer you a stable, healthy relationship. Save yourself the pain and move on to find someone who is available for what you want.
After a separation, recent divorce or recent breakup, your match will need time to process and grieve their last relationship.
The vast majority of the time, both partners in a relationship play a role in ending it. Part of the breakup process necessitates taking time to reflect on the relationship and figuring out where you might have contributed to its demise (except where there’s abuse, because the abuser is always wrong).
When people jump right into a new relationship to distract themselves from a breakup, they haven’t had ample time to reflect, which means they might not have learned from their mistakes and be doomed to repeat them — except this time with you.
I would, therefore, strongly recommend holding out for a match who’s gone through the process of contemplating their previous relationship(s) and grieving the end of it.
One last thought…
Although it’s great to go big, as in getting swept off your feet in a whirlwind romance, no one really wants to go home because their new love interest goes back home — to someone else. You deserve better.